Posted by: nancyisanders | February 20, 2020

Choosing a Breakthrough Topic for a Picture Book Teachers Will Want


Right now a lot of children’s publishers are looking for picture book topics teachers, librarians, and homeschooling mamas will buy. That’s because this is a viable current market. They’re one of the strongest purchasing powers behind picture books, which are a really tough book to sell in today’s digital world.

So this means that we as children’s writers want to choose a BREAKTHROUGH topic by focusing in on this market.

When I embarked on my journey a couple of years ago to choose a BREAKTHROUGH topic, I immediately started brainstorming ideas. I wanted to write a picture book for grades K-2 so I made lists of topics that are taught in kindergarten, first grade, and second grade classrooms all across the nation.

To refresh my memory about which topics are taught, I visit several different places.

Sometimes I go to my local Teacher Supply store and walk through the aisles. Sometimes I search around through online teacher supply stores. One of my favorites is Teachers Pay Teachers. I go on there and browse grade-levels and different topics and see which topics are selling the best right now.

If you’ve never joined Teachers Pay Teachers, SIGN UP TODAY! As a children’s author, it’s one of my favorite go-to resources to see what teachers are currently buying. (While you’re exploring, CLICK HERE to see my store and please click the star to FOLLOW ME!!!)

Another couple of places I like to visit online include the curriculum standards. There are the Next Generation Science Standards and the Common Core State Standards. (If you really need a refresher on how to work with these standards, just read pages 160-164 in my how-to book for writers, Yes! You Can Learn How to Write Children’s Books, Get Them Published, and Build a Successful writing Career. If you don’t yet have my book, CLICK HERE to buy it on Amazon.)

And of course, a nice place to visit is your local school and your local library’s children’s room. You can talk with teachers and librarians and find out more about what topics they cover each and every year.

Here’s a tip:
Get out your calendar right now. Schedule in a couple of 2-hour writing mini-retreats in the week ahead. Then use that time to relax, enjoy the journey, and explore the world of children’s publishing that I’m talking about in this post. Be sure you take along your writer’s journal so you can jot down ideas that interest you. Just make sure these are BREAKTHROUGH ideas for today’s picture book market…in other words, topics every kid learns about every year all across America.

In my next post I’ll tell you which topic I chose from my brainstorming lists.

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay


  1. Thank you, Nancy, for these tips to help find a breakthrough topic.

  2. Thanks, again! I’m heading for the KY state standards.

    • Yay for you! Just remember to pick a topic that is national not regional. Regional is great only if you’re targeting a regional publisher. Think national for a breakthrough topic.

  3. I always enjoy your posts, Nancy. Thank you.

    • So glad you’re following along, Mona!

  4. Hi Nancy, Thanks for the suggestions. I am following you and would love to start my own TPT store. Do you have a suggestion for getting graphics?

    • Good for you! TpT is also a great place to post a free teacher’s guide for your book. It lets teachers know about your book and gives them a way to include it in their classroom. Regarding graphics…that’s a whole course in its own! For clip art, I always create my own artwork on Inkscape, a free art program to download. For photos, I either take my own or use royalty free and public domain images found on sources on the web. I have writer friends who buy graphics to use. Google how to get graphics to use on TpT and you’ll find lots of helpful how to.

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